Free education is not just about university
The Labour Party has recognised that post-school education is broader than just university, by including apprenticeships
and work-based training in today's commitment to reduce the cost of post-school study.
"Both major parties agree we need more workplace learning and apprenticeships, to support lifetime learning, and keep up
with changes in technology and skill demands," says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams.
Only three out of 10 school leavers enrol in degree-level education, but tertiary education announcements almost always
focus on this group.
"With 148,000 industry trainees and apprentices, employers are the largest tertiary institution in New Zealand," Mr
Williams says. "Our students get paid while they get qualified, which is better than free. Their employers provide the
teaching and buildings and equipment, which saves the student and the taxpayer. Our students don't get into debt,
because they don't take student loans. They pay taxes instead, start their KiwiSaver, and gain the exact skills that
industries need because their campus is a real business operating in the productive economy."
"These savings to learners and taxpayers are due to the investment from employers, who strongly agree that support in
the first year is key - when young workers are new to the workforce, less productive to the business, and sometimes
facing barriers to learning."
"We are interested in how Labour's 'first-year free' policy would be implemented to support work-based learners, and
call on any future government to provide better support to employers to take on new trainees and apprentices - who are
also in their first year of study," Mr Williams says.